Seeking true wisdom

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger comments on Job 28:

Divine wisdom is therefore most fully revealed in special revelation–God’s speeches and acts of redemption. Such wisdom is codified in God’s law–particularly in the covenant of works God established with Adam in Eden, the specific terms of which are republished in the Ten Commandments.

The realization that true wisdom must be revealed to us by God is, therefore, the place to begin the quest. It is clear that Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have not discovered true wisdom, based solely upon their observation of the world and the lives of those around them. Having suffered to the degree to which Job has and having heard the best arguments his friends have to offer, Job knows that unless God reveals true wisdom to his people, it will never be fully discovered by mere observation.

Thus Job declares in verse 28, “The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

Everything done apart from such wisdom is only so much vanity. Job now sees this in the bone-headed arguments of his three friends. To seek wisdom apart from God’s self-revelation is to cut one’s self off from the only source of true wisdom. To seek for wisdom through observation of the people around you is like trying to study astronomy without a using telescope. It is not that what you observe is incorrect, it is limited. True wisdom must be sought where God reveals it– in the moral law, which is the foundation of natural law. To fear God–which is to be consecrated to him through God’s covenant promises in the gospel and through their ratification in the sacraments–is the source and chief part of wisdom.

Again, the words of Job, anticipate the words of Paul, this time seen in one of Paul’s doxologies in Romans 11:33-36.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! `Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?’ `Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Simply put, to fear God means that we seek wisdom, where God reveals it–in his word–and not by looking within or through personal experience or observation, as Job’s friends have lamely tried to do. For no one has known the mind of the Lord, unless and until God reveals his mind to us in his word. This is what Job seeks.


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